This week on our favorite program, Rich Women Doing Things, the rich women did things. They yelled at their assistants in condescending tones because the elastic-waist bathing suits they wanted their (impossibly adorable) sons to model in an e-commerce shoot were forgotten. They stared into the wreckage of their shuttered vanity boutiques before spending $800 on one new scarf. They talked to their new husbands about how to best discipline their teenage daughters who keep using every towel in the house and leaving them on the floor and then … Holy shit, all of their houses are on fire!!!!!!!!
This episode was too real. Way too real. I want my reality television to be real in the sense where people stop being polite and start getting real. I don’t want it to be real in that we’re dealing with all sorts of actual issues and tragedies. If I want issues and tragedies, I’ll just look at what is hiding in my Man-Spanx every day. This episode really had it all: wildfires, eating disorders, whoever said Brandi Glanville’s name three times and made her appear.
I have to say I kind of missed Brandi. She shows up in a mesh dress that is cut about three degrees north of Koochistan and tells Denise that she is going to start hooking now. Yup. Brandi is picking up right where she left off. I’ve always had a soft spot for Brandi, and I loved her first few seasons, but on the last one, she just took it too far. She is, after all, the progenitor of Brandi Glanville disease, where a Housewife is usually right but her correctness is negated by her aggressive behavior. (Kelly Dodd has a raging case of it.)
I also think that Brandi Glanville needs a reevaluation in light of everything that we’ve learned about Lisa Vanderpump. She was the first one to try to blow the whistle on LVP, and back then it made her sound a little bit crazy. Now it all seems prescient because everything Brandi said about Lisa seems to track with the subsequent allegations. The insight into LVP and how she works is really the best aspect of her return. Brandi tells Denise that Lisa has a hotline to Radar Online and that she most definitely planted that article about Dorit that appeared in the press. Again, maybe Lisa didn’t plant this specific article, but Brandi was her bestie for five years. She knows how Lisa does it. “Whatever she wants out there, she gets out there,” she tells Denise.
Brandi also says that as soon as she crossed Lisa, their friendship was absolutely done, just like what just happened with Kyle, Dorit, and Teddi. Again, the particulars of what happened with Dorit don’t seem to matter as much as the fact that this seems like an MO, and Brandi had better access than most to see exactly how this would have played out.
It’s funny that in the planning of the trip to France, there is some question about whether or not Camille will be invited, but it is never discussed what Lisa’s position in the group is. It’s just sort of assumed that she’s not coming at this point. Now it seems she’s not going to the reunion either and most likely won’t be returning for the show’s inevitable tenth season. This has to be some sort of breach of contract, right?
Even more uncomfortable than that was the Hamlin Family Barbecue where they all had to deal with Amelia’s eating disorder head on. Man, this was difficult to watch. I’ve had family members who have dealt with anorexia and bulimia, and it is no joke. This has to be especially hard for Amelia, growing up in L.A., which puts such a priority on certain types of bodies. She’s also been taught that the best job to have is to be a model, something that she’s now actively pursuing. That’s sort of like telling a Catholic priest that he should start taking elementary-school photos. Nothing good is going to happen here.
All four Hamlins set out for a BBQ and, honestly, none of them is going to eat much. Still, gamely, Harry made an entire pie, which he’ll probably polish off in the middle of the night in an Ambien haze and wake up with a purple mouth and some awful indigestion. To account for all of the dietary abnormalities of the family, he’s gotten various and sundry fake meat burgers, corn on the cob, and a salad. Amelia tries to say that she’s not hungry. Lisa presses her to eat something to make her father happy.
Then Amelia claims that she’s allergic to all of the food that is on offer. She even claims to be allergic to corn. WebMD — giving Americans cancer scares since 1997 — says that people can be allergic to corn, but even WebMD basically says, “Really, girl? Come on.” Even when her sister, The Other One, tells her she can eat salad, she says, “But I don’t like that salad.”
As if her food avoidance weren’t enough, she then picks a fight with her father because he seems to be getting upset with her. She claims that he’s being passive-aggressive because she won’t eat his food. I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s that he knows she’s making all of these excuses to not eat anything and there’s nothing he can say or do to help her. There is nothing he can do to make her better and fix this and that is all he and Lisa want to do. I have a feeling Harry Hamlin would travel for three hours to find the one veggie burger that doesn’t taste like rubber that his daughter would eat, but he knows it’s not him or the burger or the pie. It’s something awful and pernicious that he will lose to for a long time to come.
We go from personal disasters to public ones as the Woolsey Fire that ravaged Malibu in November threatens the houses of Denise Richards and Camille Grammer, making them both unable to join the trip to France. (Man, this trip is more poorly attended than AP Physics on Senior Skip Day.) How terrifying it must have been for Camille, dragging her wilted mushroom of an assistant into the car as the fire was just cresting over a nearby hill. Or Denise moving her family God knows where as she feels like her house and everything inside it is burning. The smoke in the air, the crackle of something ungainly that is coming for you, coming for everything you love. It must be horrible, as the plumes of smoke blot out the sky and you wish, pray that the wind might change or that someone else’s house might burn instead of yours. You wish and bargain and hope, as embers glint in the breeze like fireflies in the light of day.